Friday, July 28, 2017

Importance of marriage retreats

Brandi was explaining to Beau that it is important for parents to invest time in marriage retreats because we can slip into routine, but taking time together helps us be intentional in our relationship.

Some time ago, God gave me an analogy of life before marriage as one-dimensional (1D), just me and God.  Marriage before kids is two-dimensional (2D); the three points of God, my wife, and me create a triangle of relationships. Continuing the analogy, categorically, life with one kid is 3D, and life with multiple kids is 4D.  What God showed me this evening is the aspect of quality.  I realized on our vacation last week that you can't have high-definition 3D and 4D without high-definition 2D.  Low-resolution 2D can not be used to produce high-resolution 4D.  So, it is important to take time to recalibrate and clarify the marriage relationship (2D) so that the relationships between the parents and each child (3D) and the relationships among the children (4D) can be higher quality.

Last night I had fun wrestling with my boys in the living room.  I feel like that was an overflow from our trip last week.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your abundant love that flows through us and cascades through our children.  May our family be a blessing to others and to you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fifteen years of marriage

Brandi and I spent some time last week celebrating our 15th anniversary on the beach near Puerto Morelos.  It was a great time to rest, relax, and have a lot of un-interrupted conversations.

As I reflect on the past 15 years, I think of three seasons.  The first season was a mixture of the accomplishments of education with the sting of sin.  The second season was recovery and discipleship as a couple.  And the third season has been the abundance of having children and parenting.  I am so thankful for the mercy and grace that the Lord and Brandi have given me.  Grace upon grace.

I look forward to this next season of our marriage together.  I know that it will be good.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of marriage.  Thank you for the opportunity to walk with the wife of my youth.  May I be a blessing to my wife and children.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mercy and peace

because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:13 NIV

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17‭-‬18 NIV

"Justice will prevail!" Actually, we would all be damned if justice prevailed.  How do I teach myself to love mercy more than judgement?  I think it is a work of the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy in sparing me the judgement that I deserve for my sin.  Jesus, thank you for making peace between me and God by unjustly taking my punishment on yourself.  I want to love mercy, and I want to be a peacemaker.  Holy Spirit, I want to follow you today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Blessing from Ephesians 1-3

I paraphrased the blessing below from the book of Ephesians, chapters 1, 2, and 3.  I shared this in our gathering yesterday morning. 

This blessing is spoken in first-person from our Heavenly Father, so I invite you to close your eyes and picture yourself sitting next to Him, and hear Him speak this to you:

Eph. 1:4-14 I chose you before the creation of the world, and I see you as holy and blameless in my sight.  I delight in you!  I love you so much and adopted you into my family through the blood of Jesus.  I enjoy lavishing my love on you and giving you my constant presence through the Holy Spirit.  I am so excited about you being part of my amazing plan and shining my glory!

1:17-19 I am pouring out my Spirit on you so that we can be together all the time, and you will know me better and better. I am opening the eyes of your heart to see the hope to which I have called you, the riches of my glorious inheritance in my holy people, and my incomparably great power for you who believe.

2:1-10 You were spiritually dead and separated from me because of your sins, but I love you so much, so I showed mercy and grace. I gave you spiritual life with Jesus, and I gave you a place of honor with him in Heaven so that I can show off my riches of grace and kindness that are beyond compare. I have given you a gift of forgiveness and salvation. You are my handiwork, my masterpiece, created to be part of the Body of Christ, the Church, to do good things, things that I have planned specifically for you to join me in doing.

3:12, 16-19 Because of Jesus, you can be with me and talk with me all of the time.  And out of my glorious, unending riches, I am strengthening you with power through my Holy Spirit dwelling in your spirit, and Jesus dwelling in your heart through your faith. And you, being embedded in my love, will continually be blown away by the incredible magnitude of Jesus' love for you.  Enjoy being filled with my love, overflowing with the fullness of all of my presence - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Simple prayers

I was impressed with how a simple prayer can express such powerful faith:

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lordʼs people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. "Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Acts 9:32‭-‬35 NIV

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. ... Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.
Acts 9:36‭-‬37‭, ‬40‭-‬42 NIV

Sounds like these stories are straight out of the Gospels.  Wait, maybe that's the point.  We can live like Jesus because the Holy Spirit is in us and on us.  

Note: It doesn't require a lot of words to heal someone or raise someone from the dead.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Peter's example of following Jesus's example.  I want to walk in Jesus's lifestyle.  Holy Spirit, show me the next step of faith.  And thank you for making it simple.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Full of the Holy Spirit

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Acts 7:55 NIV

The Holy Trinity, right there in Acts 7.  What a privilege for Stephen to see the Son standing at the right hand of the Father!

After persecution broke out, and Philip preached the Gospel in Samaria, the Apostles knew that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was so important

When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:15‭-‬17 NIV

Even the apostle Paul received the Holy Spirit when Ananias placed his hands on Paul and prayed for him:

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Acts 9:17 NIV

We see these several specific examples, and then we see a general confirmation of Jesus's promises of the Holy Spirit:

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Acts 9:31 NIV

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit!  Lord Jesus, thank you for fulfilling your promise of sending the Holy Spirit!  Holy Spirit, thank you for your indwelling and your anointing!  Thank you for comforting, encouraging, and empowering us to live the righteous life of Christ! We want more of you!  Lead us to walk in more anointing!  We love you, and we pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lifestyle of supernatural experiences

The disciples of Jesus continued walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, and their lives demanded hearing.  When Peter and John healed the crippled beggar at the temple gate, the religious leaders jailed them and commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.  But it was not only a matter of doctrine that they were teaching, they were operating in spiritual power.  They could not unsee their experience with Christ.

As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
Acts 4:20 NIV

Indeed, they continued operating in the anointing of the Holy Spirit:

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomonʼs Colonnade. ... Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
Acts 5:12‭, ‬16 NIV

Even Stephen and Philip, two of the seven selected to supervise the distribution of food to widows, were living a lifestyle of supernatural experiences:

Now Stephen, a man full of Godʼs grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
Acts 6:8 NIV

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.
Acts 8:5‭-‬7 NIV

Heavenly Father, thank you for the examples in your Word of those who have gone before us. I want to walk in supernatural experiences like them.  It seems to me that the way to step into that lifestyle is a step of faith whenever I see someone who would be blessed by an experience of your power.  I want to walk in your presence.  I want to be very salty and very bright.  I want my life to be characterized by your love flowing through me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.